Decorative Soldering

Pretty Dripped Solder Edge

Have you got to the point in your stained glass work when you're confident with soldering but you want to lift your artistry to another level? Then look no further.

Decorative soldering for stained glass is your answer. It really adds that 'WOW' factor to any sun catcher.

Decorative Soldering Method

Before You Start

  • I use 60/40 solder and a Weller 100 with a 700F 1/4 tip. This suits my way of working, but as always in stained glass, you might find that a different combination is better for you. Some people swear by 63/37 solder for decorative soldering for stained glass, but I find that for this technique you need the extra fraction of a second that 60/40 gives you before it sets up to let the drip run.
  • Make sure you have a protective glove for your non-soldering hand and some pegs to hold the suncatcher.
  • Adequate ventilation and safety glasses are essential.

blue glass butterfly with decorative soldered edge

Transform your gifts with this decorative soldered edge

Hands On

The technique is all about balance. You have to balance the solder drip on top of a horizontal foiled edge while making sure that the butterfly is kept on a vertical plane. If you tip the butterfly forward the drip will fall forward. There are some tips for helping with this in the video.

Find out about the Drippy Soldering video here

It's also a balance between how much solder and flux to use. Too much of either and it will drip off. Too little and the drips won't be big enough and will just look like a wavy line.

dripping stained glass solder on to foiled edge

Dripping stained glass solder on to foiled edge

  • Start the decorative soldering drips at the bottom of the wing and work upwards towards the middle of the butterfly. It's easier to explain in the video, but if you do it this way, you won't be melting the drip you've just done. You'll have space for your next drip
  • Flux your foiled edge and hold it horizontally
  • Pick up a drip of solder on your iron tip and place it carefully on the foiled edge
  • Now heat the drip up until it is shiny and wants to run
  • Carefully start tipping down - still keeping the butterfly on a vertical plane - while heating and nudging with the tip of the iron. This is quite tricky and best described by watching the video
  • The drip should run along the top of the edge and stop when it starts to set

Adding solder drip to sun catcher

Making solder drip on sun catcher edge

  • After a couple of seconds the solder colour dulls and you're ready for your next decorative soldering drip
  • Start it about 1/2 inch from the last drip. If you do it too close the drips will merge into a wavy line. The gap between the drips is a decision you make that affects how the end result turns out. You might want wavy lines or large gaps in between the drips. This is perfectly fine!
  • Repeat the above steps for each drip until you reach the middle seam
  • Then go back to the bottom and work you way up the inside of the wing to the 'body' (what ARE they called?)

Find out about the Drippy Soldering video here

Finishing Up

  • Once you've done the decorative soldering along each edge, touch up any solder areas that need it
  • Wash and polish the butterfly as you would normally
  • Patina is optional as always

stained glass butterfly with decorative solder

Pretty decorative solder butterfly

This particular decorative soldering technique for stained glass it's not the easiest thing to master. But it is truly worth the effort. Well, you can see that for yourself ! Good luck and let me know how you get on.

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